FINAL JUDGEMENT: Keep An Eye On The Other Guy

A guy flashes hundred-dollar bills in a seedy bar and gets mugged. Who’s to blame? An article on responsibility.

A woman leaves her purse on a park bench, and goes to play with her dog. Hoodlums steal the purse. The hoodlums should be tried for stealing. The woman should be lectured for leaving her purse on the bench, unprotected.

A guy flashes hundred-dollar bills in a seedy bar. As he leaves, he gets beaten up and robbed by some hoodlums. The hoodlums should be tried for robbery and assault and battery. The guy should be lectured (and ridiculed) for being so stupid.

A sorority girl drinks twelve tequilas and goes to a frat party where she passes out. When she wakes up, she finds she’s been violated by some hoodlums. The hoodlums should be tried, drawn, quartered, and castrated. The girl should be lectured for being stupid enough to put herself in such a situation.

Are you seeing where I’m headed?

The authorities (like the cops/judicial system) and authority figures (like, say, Judges at Magic tournaments), can only do so much. If you go in blind anyway, you might not DESERVE to be abused – but due to the greedy, despicable nature of some human beings, you can expect to be anyway. I can tell you that Magic tournaments are such places. Wear something other than your Jethro Bodine jacket.

Last July, when I first started writing "Final Judgement," I wrote two columns called "Survival of the Smartest." I won’t rehash them here; they’re in the archive (and I can’t bring myself to get paid for reruns). Their point remains. Keep an eye on the other guy.

I’ll admit that there are a few very honorable folks out there. They’re also in the minority. Most players will do anything they can to win games, including deck stacking, card drawing, life total fudging, and other low-down tricks. It shouldn’t be that way, but I’m here to give you a wake-up call, Sleeping Beauty: It is. It’s unfortunate, and it taints our game, but you can’t walk in being an unwary idealist. You’ll get your hat handed to you.

The DCI is realistic. We can’t catch everyone who cheats any more easily than the cops can catch everyone who swipes a candy bar from the local Zippee Mart. When we catch someone, however, the penalty is heavy (like it should be in real life). The only deterrent that we have, besides your vigilance, is making the penalty for getting caught more severe than the reward for not getting caught.

Have you noticed that no one tries to mise Jon Finkel? It’s because he pays attention (okay, I’ll also concede that there are a billion eyes on every match he plays). There are a number of players who set themselves up as non-victims. If you want to succeed, be like them. Keep an eye on the other guy. When something doesn’t look right or feel right, politely call a Judge. It’s that simple.

Moving on, did I mention that Orim’s Chant is not a counterspell? Just wanted to make that clear.

I have to tell you that I enjoy doing the "Ask the Judge" thing, but I’m going to ask a favor of you. Please read the column before sending me a question. The archives are filled with great questions; you run a pretty good chance of getting an answer there. I’m always happy to respond, but you’re likely to get a better turnaround time ("Ask the Judge" is pretty damn popular) by flipping through old questions first. I can’t imagine a Humility/Opalescence question that hasn’t already been asked, for example.

I can’t remember if I already said this, but Orim’s Chant isn’t a counterspell.

Here are excerpts from a few other popular ones, just so you know:

Gating doesn’t target. Bounce all the Blastoderms you want.

Voracious Cobra will kill any non-First Strike creature it blocks or blocks it (unless that creature has protection from red and/or green or if the Cobra’s damage is prevented).

Memory Lapse, Quash, and Desertion don’t do their additional thing because they don’t counter the spell; their additional thing is dependent on the spell getting countered because of the zone-change of the countered spell’s card. This is different than playing Absorb on an Urza’s Rage. The life gain isn’t dependent on the spell getting countered.

Removing the source of an ability doesn’t remove the ability from the stack.

Orim’s Chant is not a counterspell. Please don’t make me channel Rizzo.

In closing, I’d like to ask for a moment of silence on the passing of Willie "Pops" Stargell. Though Pops was a member of the hated Pirates, who twice in the same decade came from 3-1 deficits to win World Series against my beloved Orioles, he had a way with people. He was a giant man with a gentle soul, and understood the principle of leadership by example, a trait that is sorely lacking on our society. The world is a little worse off without him.

And that’s my Final Judgement.
Sheldon K. Menery